The most commented and “liked” tweet I ever sent happened several weeks ago.
Actually, October 8th to be exact.
I was surprised, honestly, of the response on social media including my personal Facebook page.
Here’s what I said: “I’ve decided to never burn bridges. Ever. Even if the other person attempts to pull away, seek to repair it if it’s within your power.”
Now I understand. We’ve all blown up relationships, either personally or professionally.
And, we’ve had others do something (or say something) towards us that completely destroyed the trust required to continue the relationship.
Could be a spouse, a friend, a coworker or a leader in our life.
But Bridges can be rebuilt.
How do you rebuild a bridge you’ve blown up?
And, how do you know when you can trust the other person enough to “rebuild” the bridge?
Here are four questions to ask:
1. Do they keep their word? (and am I willing to keep mine?)
This is where it starts. We have to count on them (and people have to learn that they can count on us) to deliver on promises. If you commit to following up on something, do it. No excuses.
If you can’t do it, proactively let the other person know.
For example, “Terri, last week I told you that I would get back to you with a proposal. However, I am waiting for a bid to come through from an outside vendor. It looks like that might add a week to my schedule.”
People are usually very forgiving if you take the initiative to communicate. However, if they have to chase you down, you lose points. Your reputation will take a hit.
2. Do they tell the truth? (And, am I willing to be honest with them moving forward?)
This is harder than it sounds. Most of us like to think of ourselves as truth-tellers. But it’s easy to round the numbers up, spin the facts, or conveniently leave out the evidence that doesn’t support our position.
But if we are going to build trust, then we have to commit ourselves to telling the truth—even when it is difficult or embarrassing.
People are more forgiving than you think. (Witness all the celebrities who have publicly blown it, apologized, and received a pass.) They don’t expect you to be perfect. However, they do expect you to acknowledge your mistakes and to come clean when you screw up.
3. Are they transparent and authentic? (Am I willing to be real with them first?)
People will not trust you unless you learn to share yourself, warts and all. You have to take a risk and be vulnerable. This creates rapport and rapport builds trust.
However—and be warned!—you can’t use this as a gimic or a technique. If you do, people will see it as manipulation. Instead, you have to be authentic. The reason this builds trust is because you are demonstrating trust. You are taking the initiative to go first.
In essence, you are saying, “Look, I trust you. I am taking off my mask and showing you my true self. Some of it isn’t very pretty. But I am willing to take that risk, believing you will still accept me.”
4. Do they Give without any strings attached? (Am I willing to give first?)
Nothing builds trust like love. What does love have to do with the workplace?
As Tim Sanders points out in Love Is the Killer App, everything. You have to be willing to share your knowledge, your contacts, and your compassion—without expecting anything in return. The more you take the initiative to give, the more it builds trust. Giving lets others know that you know it’s not “all about you.” From this, people learn that they can trust you, because you have their best interests at heart.
Bridges can always be rebuilt.
Granted, in some situations, it can take years.
It takes doing the right things over a long period of time.
But in most cases, it won’t take that long. Relationships can be turned around quickly if both will take the steps needed to rebuild trust.